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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
The Queen Bee of Bridgeton (Dancing Dream, #1) - Leslie DuBois I’m having a better run of realistic YA novels rather than the paranormal/sci-fi/dystopic ones. I haven’t found an utterly fantastic one yet, but I’ve liked the realistic ones a lot more. So, obviously, I did enjoy this. The premise did have me worried at first, as I’m really not a fan of books where girls are set up to be bitchy to one another for no good reasons (which is another thing I think is just bad behavior to promote in general), but this was slightly better than I was expecting it to be. I liked the detail that Sonya isn’t willing to stoop down to the Bitch Brigade’s level and throw out catty comments. And when she does, Sonya’s extremely reluctant to do so and feels uncomfortable with it. I really like that she feels like she shouldn’t have to resort to bitchy remarks to take down these girls. We need more of this behavior in YA. I also really like how so much of the book is hinged on Sonya’s identity. She doesn’t really quite fit into Venton Heights or Bridgeton Academy, but she doesn’t feel like she needs to stand out in either place. And we get this strong love that Sonya has for dancing in her narration, and how it’s definitely the place where she feels like she belongs. I really liked this aspect of her; it makes Sonya more realistic. And I liked the uncertainity she has in her school, that she knows that she’s not on the automatic path to a good school. Not to mention, again, Sonya’s willing to do the right thing, even if she doesn’t want praise for it. She’s willing to help two girls she doesn’t even know in order to spare them from embarrassment. It’s another layer of realism that adds to her character.Also, there’s a good discussion on race that doesn’t verge on preachy. It’s set up very early on that Sonya and her sister Sasha have to get themselves out of the ghetto, as they can see what the alternate is. Sonya is a lot more believable in that she does feel very out of place in Venton Heights, but she’s not actively trying to act white or be better than anyone else. She’s just a girl who’s a bit out of step. And while there’s not a huge treatise on how Sonya and Sasha are treated at school, it is definitely discussed, albeit briefly. I don’t think it’s given the full weight of a race discussion, but it’s given enough credit to add to the story.I would have liked to have seen the racial discussion brought up in the relationship between Will and Sonya, as it’s given a brief two-second mention and then dropped. That said though, I do like this relationship. First off, it’s a little funny to see Will try to pull the Edward Cullen method of romance by stalking Sonya…who’s then a little freaked out and mad that Will would try that. It does illustrate will’s rich kid lifestyle, and the idea that he has to deal with someone who won’t respond to his every whim. And outside of the romance, I like the fact that Will and Sonya feel like they could just be friends, with no romantic obligations. I would have liked to have seen more with Will’s darker side, as it gets frequently mentioned but then unceremoniously dropped until it’s needed again. While I do like the set-up and the reasons behind Sonya trying to make good, the revenge scheme and the revelation behind the Bitch Brigade are the weakest parts of this, mostly due to Sasha. Early on, it feels like Sonya and Sasha have a very sisterly relationship—bickering, but they care about each other and want the other to succeed. Then, as the Brigade tries to threaten Sonya, Sasha continues to push her sister into becoming one of the mean girls. And then it’s revealed that Sasha is behind the Bitch Brigade, culminating in a fairly out of character villain speech and Sasha leaving the house because she has nothing left to reach for. There’s some hints as to Sasha being more involved than she let on, but the revelation and her sudden change in character comes out of nowhere. It’s explained away as “Well, she was just being manipulative the whole time!” but I don’t really buy it. Additionally, the pacing of the book is very rushed. The first half is decent, with Sonya and her growing romance with Will, but once the revenge scheme starts, everything happens so fast with little time to process what’s happening. Not to mention, the last chapter feels like all of the events are just arbitrarily tacked on to set up the next book. I feel like there could have been more of an ending, and drawing out everything that happens to Sonya in the last two chapters, instead of cramming everything in a few paragraphs.Even still, I did like this book. It’s not a must-read, but it’s worth checking out if you need a quick read on your ereader of choice.